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Top Stories

Editor's picks for the top news stories of the day.

This photo of Coldwater Creek flooding was taken from the Dunn Road bridge on Monday.
Paul A. Huddleston

Update 2:30 Dec. 29 with guard activated - Floodwater from Coldwater Creek in north St. Louis County is not radioactive, but it could still pose a health risk.

That’s according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is testing and cleaning up contaminated yards and parks along the creek.

Jim McKelvey, Co-founder, Square
Scott Pham|KBIA

It has been a big year for an emerging technology company with St. Louis roots.

Square went public on the New York Stock Exchange a few weeks ago. It also opened a St. Louis office, which is expected to employ more than 200 in five years.

The only law enforcement agency licensed by the FAA in Missouri or Illinois to operate drones uses two UASs units.
Provided by Illinois State Police

The Illinois State Police drones have flown nearly 50 missions since May, and the department says they are fulfilling the goal of making police work more efficient.

The state police was the first law enforcement agency in Illinois to get permission to use unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles. They’ve mostly been deployed at accident scenes, for a total of 48 hours of flight time.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Typically when December ends, journalists tend to become reflective about the highlights and lowlights of the past year. This reporter is no exception, as the scandal, tragedy, transition, conflict and hilarity of the past 12 months gave everybody who covers Missouri politics a lot to think about.

So yes, this is an article rounding up all of the big moments from the past year. But renowned financier Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson inspired me to take this retrospective in a different direction.

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois' 12th congressional district talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Feb. 19, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Shortly after arriving on Capitol Hill last year, Illinois Congressman Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, told a story about how he and his new colleagues were told that for the first few weeks they might be asking themselves the question, "How did I get here?” At the time, he also said, they were told that after a few weeks the question they’d be asking themselves would likely change slightly, to “How did they get here?”

Regional Arts Commission executive director Felicia Shaw, Pulitzer director Cara Starke and St. Louis Symphony president Marie-Hélène Bernard
Regional Arts Commission, Pulitzer Arts Foundaiton and St. Louis Symphony

Three women who moved to St. Louis this year to head up major arts organizations are praising the area for assets ranging from architecture to sports teams. But all three agreed on one perk: the food.

The students will participate in after-school, mentor and summer programs to help them learn skills that could help them in and outside of school, such as conflict management.
Stephanie Zimmerman

Even as hundreds of students living in the Normandy school district continue transferring to nearby accredited schools, challenges to a court ruling in the longstanding case continue.

The next court date will be Feb. 9 in the Missouri Court of Appeals. At issue is whether the state board of education acted properly in classifying Normandy as accredited when the district became the Normandy Schools Collaborative at the start of the 2014-15 school year.

Mike Brownlee, 32, of Kirkwood, (right) fills out a survey about the municipal court system outside Sunset Hills City Hall. Researchers from Saint Louis University are studying courts in St. Louis County in hopes of addressing inequalities.
File photo | Kameel Stanley | St. Louis Public Radio

In the past year, politicians, government officials and community advocates have been in a tug-of-war over the future of municipal court operations here.

Many say consolidation is the answer. Others worry about unintended consequences to smaller municipalities whose budgets rely heavily on revenue from court fines.

Here’s something that’s not talked about as much:

What do the people who actually get caught up in these systems think?

 

Water had already gathered along the curb of Olive Street outside St. Louis Public Radio by noon on Sat. Dec 26, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A three-day forecast of heavy rain and out-of-season thunderstorms has placed the St. Louis area under a flash flood watch through Monday afternoon. The flood watch began Saturday at noon.

“Even though the calendar says December, Mother Nature doesn’t think so,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Ben Miller. “This is a system more typical of fall or actually spring.  There’s going to be some scattered thunderstorms that are going to produce some heavy rain fall.”

gift card generic
Mike Mozart | Flickr

Thousands of Missourians have leftover gifts to reclaim from the state treasurer’s office this holiday season.

According to Treasurer Clint Zweifel, the state is holding nearly $9 million worth of gift cards and gift certificates that have been dormant for at least five years.

“We all know what it’s like during the holiday season. You get gifts; you get gift cards. You set them aside; you might forget about them,” he said. “Or you might lose them in the travels that you have. We’ve returned $145,000 this year alone in gift cards.”

Runners pass the Confederate Monument in Forest Park.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Mayor Francis Slay wants a memorial to Confederate war dead out of Forest Park — a move that means the 101-year-old granite statue will likely head to storage.

Audio Agitation: Life Lessons

Dec 24, 2015
Creative Commons

As the year comes to a close, we sit back with family and friends to discuss the past year and celebrate another year on earth.

To help aid any year-end reviews bandied about the house we’ve collected a number of songs that seem to offer some perspective on the life lessons we often think we’ve earned.

Rep. Lacy Clay, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver
Provided by the office of Rep. Clay

Rep. Lacy Clay, D- University City, says he hopes 2016 will see more progress in Congress on legislation that grew out of the shooting death of Michael Brown. 

 

2015 began with the events of Ferguson fresh in the minds of lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  Many, including Clay, introduced bills to address everything from police access to - and use of - surplus military-type equipment, calls for more body cameras and increased training for law enforcement officers.

 

Clockwise from left: Alcar, Nick Carlson, Alan Cleaver, Quincy

The arts in St. Louis are similar to the fabled elephant described by six men who cannot see: “It’s like a snake!” cried one who grasped the tail. “No, a tree trunk!” insisted another, as he rubbed a leg.

Art is a staged dialogue that makes you wince with recognition. It's a brushstroke that evokes sadness; a beat your toes can’t help but keep. And it's as unique as the artist, as we've learned in our first year of putting together the Cut & Paste podcast.

Lt. Governor Peter Kinder
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who’s among a crowd of Republicans running for governor next year, joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum for the latest Politically Speaking podcast.

It's Kinder's second appearance on the show.

A native of Cape Girardeau, Kinder has been a major player in state politics for more than two decades, beginning with his 1992 election to a state Senate seat. He briefly considered a bid for state auditor in 1998.

Kelly Moffit | St. Louis Public Radio

An animal rights group plans to protest Wednesday night at one of St. Louis County’s largest holiday light displays.

A small candlelight vigil at Tilles Park’s “Winter Wonderland” will honor a carriage horse named King that died while giving rides there on Dec. 21, 2013, said St. Louis Animal Rights Team attorney, Dan Kolde.

“We think that that occurred because the industry was allowed, unlawfully, to become unregulated by the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission,” he said.  

Michael Velardo | Flickr

For a long time, Gary Carmack of Waynesville watched his 25-year-old son James battle a heroin addiction.

“He would look at me with these big, sad eyes, and he wanted so bad to get off of it,” Carmack said. “Everyone would be saying, ‘you just have to tell him to quit.’ And of course that’s virtually impossible without the right kind of help.”

As a paramedic, Carmack had seen countless overdoses. The family tried desperately to get James into treatment. But in 2013, his son was one of 258 Missourians who died after using heroin that year.  

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A dispatch from the North Pole came to the “St. Louis on the Air” studio earlier this week with an offer we simply couldn’t refuse — the chance for three Santas from elsewhere around the world to visit with host Don Marsh and discuss what Christmas is like for children around the globe.

At first, there was a little suspicion.

LockerDome Logo
LockerDome

A St. Louis-based social media technology company is moving into a much larger space as it prepares to add 300 jobs over the next five years.

LockerDome's headquarters will remain downtown on Washington Avenue, but plans to be in the new space by the end of next year. It will be 18,000 square feet as opposed to the company's current 6,800 square-foot office.

Part of the $4.7 million sewer system upgrade involves removing illegal sewer bypasses, like the one pictured here.
Ted Heisel | Missouri Coalition for the Environment

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District is spending billions of dollars to keep sewage out of area waterways as part of a court-ordered agreement. But MSD’s plan involves something you might not expect: demolishing vacant buildings.

Right now, big storms can overwhelm the city’s combined stormwater and sewer system, causing raw sewage to overflow into rivers and streams.

Black semi-automatic pistol
(via Flickr/kcds)

Legislation being proposed in Missouri would establish a sales tax holiday for new gun purchases.

The pre-filed bill is sponsored by Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa.  He has not yet responded to requests by St. Louis Public Radio for an interview, but he issued a brief written statement on Monday.

Brent Jones / St. Louis Public Radio

Has Indianapolis’ massive merger with its suburbs back in the 1970s saved taxpayers tons of money? Or has the public’s voice been muted by the huge city government that’s replaced all the smaller ones?

Those questions, in effect, are among the topics of upcoming studies by CitiesStrong, a new nonprofit made up of at least a dozen  current and former local officials in St. Louis County.

s_falkow | Flickr

Two small Missouri cities are drawing heat from the state auditor for charging court fees that aren’t allowed by state law.

Democrat Nicole Galloway found that the municipal courts in St. Ann, and Foristell, in St. Charles County, were both generally well-run. But in reports released Tuesday, her office said both charged fees that were not authorized by state law.

Credit: Gail Wechsler, Jewish Community Relations Council

The word for charity in Hebrew is Tzedakah. The word for charity in Arabic is Sadaqah. Their pronunciation is similar. An emphasis on charity is just one of the similarities the two religions — and Christianity — share, said Gail Wechsler, one of the Jewish co-chairs for the Jewish and Muslim Day of Community Service taking place Christmas Day.

Metro disputes St. Louis mass transit report

Dec 22, 2015
File photo | Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

Metro Transit is disputing a recent study that suggests its operations in the St. Louis area are financially unsustainable.

St. Louis remembers 9 who died while homeless

Dec 21, 2015
Connie Lamka holds a candle during a vigil for nine St. Lousians who died while homeless in 2015. Lamka is a case worker for the New Life Evangelistic Center, and knew two women who passed away this year.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Before dusk on the longest night of the year, about 30 people stood at the Centenary United Methodist Church in St. Louis to remember nine people who died while homeless in 2015.

The four women and five men honored during the ceremony had visited St. Louis-area agencies for assistance, but died without a place to call home. Some died young, including one who passed away after a fire swept through his encampment near downtown St. Louis. Some died while estranged from family or friends.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, is sponsoring what he calls the biggest “reform” to the Department of Housing and Urban Development in more than 50 years.

 

The legislation addresses long-standing issues in public housing across the U.S.

 

“What we’ve done with this bill is open up 19 different sections of the law, somewhere between 65 and 70 provisions that we believe make some significant changes in the way HUD operates,” Luetkemeyer told St. Louis Public Radio.

 

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

Organ tuner Dave Ressler was at the Old Cathedral on the St. Louis riverfront getting the pipe organ ready for Christmas.

The organ is a grand instrument that stretches across the choir loft of the church – its magnificent gold pipes encased in an ornate wooden cabinet that was built by a Cincinnati organ builder in 1838.

File | St. Louis Public Radio

After two successes in the General Assembly and two vetoes by Gov. Jay Nixon, Missouri lawmakers will consider once more what changes can be made to the state’s student transfer law.

Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, who has been active on the issue as head of the the Senate Education Committee, has pre-filed one of three bills dealing with the transfers. St. Louis area Democrats – Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City and Sen. Scott Sifton of Affton – have filed the others.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s the holiday season, and like many of you, we’re taking stock.  

Taking stock of what we accomplished with this We Live Here project; the stories and topics we’ve covered; and where we hope to go in the future.   

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